The author may be contacted at agam [dot] tapak [at] gmail [dot] com Posting times are Bangkok time [GMT+7 = EDT+11].
March 21, 2009
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VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH DALAI LAMA
n his first trip outside India since the Tibetan crisis began just over a month ago, Dalai Lama sat down with NBC's Ann Curry for an extended one-on-one. Thanks to NBC for making the entire interview available.
- posted by Agam @ 1:07 PM 4 comments
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Oh, Agam-laa, thank you so much for passing this on. While watching the first minutes of it I was reminded of that notorious Larry King interview (if that is the right word for what happened). It's the difference between day and night, heaven and hell.
Ann Curry did such a great job both communicating to H.H. clearly but also helping to make sure He would be understood (it takes many people some time and effort to understand His Indian-tinted English, which makes a longer interview like this so necessary, just to give people a chance to adjust their ears to the unfamiliar music).
Of course it would take much more than such an interview to plumb the logical and practical depths of H.H.'s convictions against violence. Buddhism can't be introduced in a sound bite, really not. And yes, of course, if non-violence is at the core of Buddhism, it's clear that certain Buddhists have gone astray in every Buddhist country...
But I for one would want to attribute this to unrealized ideals (or individual and institutional failures), and not hypocrisy. Non-violence takes such an extraordinary commitment on the level of our individual everyday lives, not to mention the lives of nations. It's a commitment worth making considering the alternative.
And I was thinking while watching this how important it is right now that H.H. be heard clearly by the world at large. Of course it's important to qualify that soon after saying it. It's also terribly important that people get acquainted with more Tibetan names and biographies and points of views besides only His. Some of us might tend to see Him as a 'Theocrat' who must therefore be a totalitarian type of ruler.
Quite in the contrary direction — even though very many (I would say a vast majority of) Tibetans wherever they live would be more than happy to have H.H. speak for them (He would win an election with ease) — here and on many other occasions He has unambiguously granted them the right to have their individual voices, their own attitudes, beliefs and opinions.
With the future happiness and cultural survival of Tibetans at heart, H.H. is very rightly considered as their most important spokesperson. But that supplies us with no good reason to ignore what other Tibetans are saying. Not in the least.
And everybody needs to try and be a little more realistic on the Tibet issue. After all, as H.H. said, it "must be solved between Chinese and Tibetans." That sidelines the rest of us. Well, at least in some degree. In a democratic world there would be no reason why everyone shouldn't do their best to make their voices heard. Or would there be?
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Dan, thanks for putting your thoughts down here, they echo a lot of what I was feeling as I listened to him.
I also wish a broader range of Tibetan voices could be heard, so people could understand that they cover a whole range of outlooks, like any others. Buddhists aren't all monks and meditators (I live in Thailand - where some have said "Oh Agam, he lives in Thailand, I wonder what he's doing there? nudge nudge wink wink..."
Stereotypes. Tibetans shouldn't be pigeon-holed either, whether as the CCP's propaganda dept. would have it, or as the starry-eyed new agers would have it.
That's one thing that people might take away from listening to this video. One can get a sense of a broad society because he has such a good understanding of it, and it just comes through.
It's so right that the problem must be solved between the Tibetans and Chinese themselves. Why it seems so darn difficult just to get to that point, I just don't get. Until they can get there, I think there will be a place for those on the sidelines to shout encouragement, remind both parties of fair play and honesty, rules of the game. The audience seems to still be very important at this point.
A good piece by Isabel Hilton on the Guardian's opinion site.
Isabel Hilton: Ditch the tatty flag of nationalism
She ends with three good suggestions for China's leadership. She elaborates on them, I won't.
1) Stop digging
2) Get honest advice and listen
3) Take back the initiative